Things You Should Check Before Buying a Vehicle

It is important that you have reliable transportation for yourself and anyone else who relies on you to get to and from work or school. Therefore, it is important that you spend time researching cars that meet your needs and budget before visiting a dealership or meeting with a private seller. What are some of the things that you should look at when performing your due diligence?

Maintenance Records

Vehicles that have been poorly maintained could be at a higher risk for problems such as not starting or not shifting properly. Reviewing maintenance records can also tell you whether a car has been in an accident or has been in the shop for the same problem multiple times. Repair, inspection and other maintenance documents may be available from the company that performed the service or by asking for a used car history report through a 3rd party like Carfax


esearch indicates that 68% of people purchasing a vehicle rely on reviews as part of their decision making process. Of course, it is important to verify that you have read a real review when using it to make a buying decision. Ideally, you will get reviews from family, friends or colleagues who have actually owned the vehicle or have driven it extensively. Reviews posted by automotive bloggers or consumer watchdog groups may also be trustworthy. 

Is the Sale Final?

If you buy a vehicle from a private seller, the sale is generally final as soon as the title is transferred. This means that you won’t have any recourse if the engine starts making a funny noise or the car won’t start the next day. If you buy a vehicle from a dealer, you may be granted several days to return it for a full refund. Dealers are also likely to include a limited warranty that lasts for 60 days or for 3,000 miles. While it may not allow you to return the vehicle, it does mean that it will be easier to get repairs made without having to pay for them.

Is the Vehicle Covered by State or Federal Lemon Laws?

The federal government will cover new vehicles under its lemon laws whether they were leased or purchased outright. A handful of states will also include protection for those who purchased used vehicles. Even if your car is not covered by a lemon law, it could still be protected under state or federal consumer protection laws. Prior to acting under a state or federal lemon law, you must first give the manufacturer multiple chances to fix a defect. The only exception is for defects that could potentially put your life in danger if not fixed on the first try. Assuming that the vehicle qualifies, you would then make a claim with the vehicle’s manufacturer. 

Is the Title Valid?

If the title to the vehicle isn’t valid, you’re not the true owner of the vehicle. If there is a lien on the title, you may need to pay it off to retain ownership of the car. It may be possible to do a title search prior to completing a purchase with a private seller. Generally speaking, the dealer can guarantee the title to a vehicle is valid and that it can be transferred to you when the transaction closes.

Buying a new or used car can make it easier to get to work, school or other obligations on time. However, as you are likely going to be paying for it for the next several years, you need to be sure that you’re buying a quality product.

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